Remember that highly lethal bird flu that killed 50 million U.S. chickens and turkeys in 2015? Well, history is repeating itself (as it does), most recently at a Tyson broiler chicken farm in Fulton County, Kentucky. Reuters reports that around 240,000 chickens being raised for meat tested positive for the same H5N1 strain first discovered at an Indiana turkey farm last week.
The infected turkeys were euthanized last week and Kentucky state officials say infected Tyson chickens were culled and will not be entering the food system. Tyson Foods is working with government authorities to prevent the disease from spreading, and other officials are in the process of testing birds in other poultry farms in Kentucky that may have been infected.
At the moment, the U.S. Department of Agriculture says the outbreak does present an immediate health concern. Still, countries like China and Korea have been limiting poultry purchases from Indiana and blocking exports from Kentucky altogether to stop the spread. (The United States is the world’s largest producer and second-largest exporter of poultry meat, according to the U.S. government.) And while the flu is being tracked and contained in regulated chicken and turkey farms, the spread likely started from wild birds, which seem harder to wrangle.
The verdict: Our system is highly regulated, so whatever is in your fridge or freezer almost certainly does not contain the bird flu. In any case, the CDC tells us: “No human bird flu infections have been reported from proper handling of poultry meat or from eating properly cooked poultry or poultry products.”
Sure, the chicken you already have might be safe, but this outbreak could severely affect supply, a supply that was already down 14% for frozen chickens and 23% for turkey due to those ongoing supply chain issues. So why not take a little break from poultry in the meantime?
We’ve got some suggestions for a chicken-less lifestyle:
- All Vegetarian, Inc.’s Vegan Drumsticks
- “Codphish” Buljol
- Cucumbers a la Buffalo Wings
- Lemon Pepper Tofu
- Plant-based nuggets
We’ll keep an eye on the chicken farms for you and let you know when it’s advisable to bring poultry back into your rotation.